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Q:After my father died, I went through his top dresser drawer and found an odd-looking 2-inch metal fastener marked "Washburne Pat'd Mar 27-94, Feb 4-96." There's a small clip at each end of the fastener that can be opened and locked closed. One clip is mounted perpendicular to the shank and the other is horizontal. What in the world was it used for? And would anyone be interested in buying it?

A:Your fastener is a Washburne "Bull-Dog Grip" cuff holder invented by James V. Washburne of Morrison, Ill. Washburne was a prolific inventor of clips, clasps and fasteners for clothing, key chains and paper. They were all marketed as "Washburne Fasteners." The cuff holder was meant to hold a loose shirt cuff tight, with one end of the clip holding the top of the cuff in place and the other end attached to the sleeve-opening above the cuff. We have seen Washburne cuff holders offered online as a means to cheat at cards-apparently you can hide an "ace up your sleeve" using one end of the clip. That was not their intended use, at least according to the U.S. Patent Office. A pair of Washburne cuff holders might sell online for $15-$20.


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